On Monday night, I attended an SGA meeting that featured Central Michigan University President George Ross.
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On Monday night, I attended an SGA meeting that featured Central Michigan University President George Ross.
About 40 Faculty Association members waited on the second floor of Rowe Hall Monday afternoon hoping to be spotted by the visiting members of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. LCME has been on campus since Sunday, deciding whether or not the College of Medicine should progress further toward academic accreditation. The FA members stood outside CMED Dean Ernest Yoder’s office as he led LCME members in and out of rooms. The FA members agreed their goal was to form a silent protest without handouts, signs or chants. “We’re just gathering because one of the meetings this afternoon is dealing with faculty issues,” said Reference Librarian Elizabeth Morris.
Central Michigan University now estimates the start-up costs for the College of Medicine will exceed $30 million. CMU initially set aside $25 million over five years to fund CMED start-up costs.
At least three groups have filed Freedom of Information Act requests asking for information on the details of the College of Medicine. The Central Michigan University Faculty Association, Academic Senate and Central Michigan Life have not received their requests. On Monday, General Counsel Manuel Rupe received one request from the Academic Senate and three from the Faculty Association, Director of Public Relations Steve Smith said. CM Life also sent a request on Oct.
The Academic Senate’s request to be involved the with upcoming Liaison Committee on Medical Education visit has been granted. During the LCME visit next week, four faculty members will be invited to spend 45 minutes with LCME members to discuss their concerns about the College of Medicine. Jim McDonald, A-Senate chairman, is organizing the meeting. “I sent a request to LCME myself and they came back and said four faculty members could (talk) for a total of 45 minutes,” McDonald said.
If there were ever any doubt about campus frustration over the disregard for shared governance by this Central Michigan University administration, the overwhelming Academic Senate vote on Nov.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln, and Mark the Apostle before him, may not have been thinking of Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine when they said the famous phrase, but their words ring clear in the imbroglio surrounding its development. As reported in Friday’s edition of Central Michigan Life, none of the other several Michigan universities developing medical schools have encountered even a fraction of the opposition CMU has from faculty and students. Does this mean we are simply unwilling to see the potential for financial and academic gain from the university, blinded by selfish desires for higher pay, lower tuition and more support for current programs? No. While it is not our intention to put words in the mouth of CMU’s administration, this seems to be its general response to the mounting opposition to CMED: “Look at the big picture.” “It serves a clear need in the community.” “It will be a money-maker.” The administration has to acknowledge the concerns of its students and its faculty, two essential elements the university cannot exist without. One of Academic Senate’s biggest issues with CMED as it stands was represented by Phil Squattrito, former A-Senate Chairman and current chemistry professor, on Tuesday. “At the heart of this motion is to get the university to be more forthcoming on the medical school,” he said. Senators took issue with a lack of detail and transparency on the costs of CMED. These problems are coming from an administration which refuses to be forthcoming with CMED information while the president vows to fight for transparency. “We must also acknowledge the challenges of access to students, affordability in terms of controlling costs and tuition, ensuring a strong foundation of quality in all that we do, and accountability — being accountable and responsible through transparency in our role as educators,” University President George Ross said in a statement to the university published in Central Michigan Life on Oct.
Unlike Central Michigan University, faculty at Western Michigan University and Oakland University have not publicly opposed their new medical schools. According to public relations departments at both universities, faculty have not voiced opposition because the medical schools are not being financed by funds from existing academic programs. CMU Director of Public Relations Steve Smith said no funds from existing programs are being used for the CMU College of Medicine either. Bob Miller, associate vice president for community outreach at WMU, said there has been no official opposition to their school of medicine by university faculty and staff.
In a hushed auditorium Tuesday, David Smith addressed the Academic Senate about what he called the “elephant in the room” regarding the College of Medicine. Smith, a professor of philosophy and religion, presented a resolution, which said “all work by, toward, and on behalf of the College of Medicine pertaining to curriculum, non-curricular policies and procedures, and faculty recruitment be suspended until such time as the above concerns have been addressed by and to the satisfaction of the Academic Senate.” The resolution with a 76-percent vote to halt further action was approved. However, it is unclear whether or not the motion will legitimately suspend action on CMED or remain symbolic. Phil Squattrito, a chemistry professor and former chairman, said although the A-Senate has control over curriculum, there is debate over who has authority over CMED.
The department of journalism voted unanimously last Friday to oppose the College of Medicine if revenue from existing academic programs are being used to finance it. Journalism Department Chairwoman Maria Marron said in an email the department does not oppose CMED if it is funded from independent resources or some other means. “However, there is no indication so far that CMU has obtained significant resources for the medical school,” she said. The department of earth and atmospheric sciences has taken a similar vote, according to posts on the Central Michigan University Faculty Association Facebook page Tuesday by Geology and Meteorology Professor Kathleen Benison. She could not be reached in time for publication. Western Michigan University reportedly received a gift of $100 million this year for the medical school it is building, but there have been no announcements about similar gifts at CMU, Marron said. She said Michigan State University’s medical school already provides the programs and serves the communities CMED would serve, and this is a diversion of resources that is “unwise and unfair” to CMU students, faculty and other groups. Marron said journalism and other faculty across campus have several concerns about CMED, and money is a key issue.
A Saginaw Township-based radiology group, which includes a Central Michigan University trustee, has pledged $100,000 to the College of Medicine. According to reports in The Saginaw News, Advanced Diagnostic Imaging will give the money to CMU in $20,000 installments.
Three U.S. senators introduced a bill that would increase the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education residency slots at hospitals by at least 15,000. The Resident Physician Shortage Act of 2011 would increase the number of residency slots by about 3,000 each year from 2013 to 2017, for a total of 15,000 slots over the five-year period.
The annual salaries of two College of Medicine associate deans hired in June total $425,000. Dr. Linda Perkowski, associate dean of medical education, has an annual salary of $200,000, according to documents obtained by Central Michigan Life through the Freedom of Information Act. Perkowski was hired June 6 to fill the position formerly held by Dr. Nehad El-Sawi.
University President George Ross spoke to alumni in Midland on Tuesday, touching on the ongoing contract dispute with the Faculty Association and prioritization of academic programs on campus. According to the Midland Daily News, Ross told the group FA contract negotiations are at the top of Central Michigan University's list and that the union and administrators will continue bargaining while they wait for the fact-finders report. He attested to the lack of impact the dispute has had on campus, calling the 650 tenure-rack faculty members "the cornerstone" of CMU. "I want to assure you that four-and-a-half weeks into this semester, if you walk onto our campus you wouldn't know that we are involved in those negotiations," Ross said.
The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees approved a $1.5 million renovation to the Real Food on Campus cafeteria Thursday, specifying the new addition of a Mongolian grill. While improving campus in any way is a great thought, the real problems are being overlooked.
Central Michigan University's College of Medicine remains about halfway to its fundraising goal of $25 million, as it has been since April. The vast majority of the funds already received are in the form of pledges, not cash, Kathy Wilbur, vice president of Development and External Relations said in an e-mail. The pledges are signed commitments from individuals, corporations and foundations and are usually accompanied with the first check of their commitment. Wilbur said she was pleased with the fundraising process, because the second half of a goal is often more difficult to reach than the first. A $100,000 donation from an alumna/alumnus was revoked in April 2009. The next step in CMED's development is a survey visit by Liaison Committee on Medical Education in mid-November. In February 2012, LCME will vote to decide if the medical school will receive accreditation, and send a letter to the committee in March. The CMED committee met at 2 p.m.
Central Michigan University has a strong financial foundation. That’s the truth. If it didn’t, the government would step in, figuring $68 million of tax money goes toward the university each year. During University President George Ross’ State of the University speech he even said, “And the state of Central Michigan University is indeed strong.” Central Michigan Life’s Friday editorial stated, “University President George Ross said Central Michigan University was in strong financial shape in his State of the University Address Wednesday.” I received a call from Steve Smith, director of public relations, early Friday morning saying we had misquoted Ross and asked if we could fix the situation by printing a correction. He said the context was in an academic sense, as Ross had spoken about academia prior to saying the quote. I refused, citing my major issue — when any president, especially of a university, tells you their company is “indeed strong,” that encompasses finances, academics, students and faculty. Smith explained to me the rhetoric, saying governors and presidents say similar things all the time during their state of the state, or nation, but that doesn’t mean they are financially in good shape. When did CMU become a place so concerned about the politics of giving a speech? I asked Smith whether CMU was financially struggling and he declined comment, saying that was not the issue. An editor’s note was added to the online version of the editorial and I added Ross’ direct quote to give more clarity to readers. As Ross was giving his State of the University, several buildings over in Powers Hall, Vice Provost of Academic Administration Ray Christie said under oath that CMU never had an issue with giving the Faculty Association what they had originally asked for in contract talks between the two. “We’ve never stated we could not afford it,” Christie said. But would a university admit it can afford pay increases if it is financially struggling? CMU has acted like the victim in all of the FA contract talks, claiming it lost $12 million in Michigan funding this year, which is true. What CMU isn’t saying is the added 3.47 percent tuition increase will more than make up for the $12 million loss from the state. For the 2010-11 fiscal year CMU made $189,691,837 from on-campus tuition dollars. For the 2011-12 fiscal year CMU is anticipating $204,496,263. That’s nearly $15 million, which makes up for any loss in appropriations they received.
Editor's note: This editorial has had the addition of University President Ross' actual quote during the State of the University Address. "And the state of Central Michigan University is indeed strong." These were the words of University President George Ross during his State of the University Address Wednesday. But just a few buildings over, in a much more intimate setting, another story about university and it's finances was told. Ray Christie, vice president of academic administration, talked with the Faculty Association and CMU bargaining teams as a fact-finder listened to both sides of the contract dispute. Christie's perspective gave officials in Powers Hall a different look at CMU's budget than the optimistic messages booming throughout Plachta Auditorium. He said CMU is more reliant on student tuition money than state appropriations, and showed a presentation about the budget and the $5 million annually going to the College of Medicine. But he revealed a less cheerful fact about current issues in the deferred maintenance budget. He said it only receives about $5.5 million annually, when about $13.5 million, almost three times that amount, would be required to keep campus in optimal conditions. CMU complained about lacking $8 million for maintenance while spending $5 million a year on opening a College of Medicine which is, for the moment, a complete drain on revenue producing no funds of its own, and managed to present the slides right next to each other. Officials have said there is no opportunity cost on the college and it will help CMU reach the next level of higher education, but this deficit in maintenance is clearly only one cost of potentially overreaching in a time of recession. If CMU wasn’t sinking $5 million into CMED annually, it would be almost trivial to find funding for maintaining the buildings already essential to serving students in a more than $400 million operating budget. While the truth about the current financial shape of CMU is likely somewhere between Ross' speech and Christie's presentation, CMU can't complain about budget problems largely created by itself. We appreciate Ross' vision for the future of this university, and applaud his efforts to continue growing the school in both programs and prestige when many would simply batten down the hatches and toss future concerns overboard. However, trading the university's present quality of facilities and education in hopes of an elusive gold-tinged future is, for students dealing with current conditions, no compromise at all.
The saying goes that one in the hand is worth two in the bush. In Central Michigan University's case, its resources on hand may be old, creaky and smell of sweatsocks and moldy apples. Brooks and Anspach halls, we're looking at you. However, CMU is still pursuing two in the bush — the nearly complete College of Medicine extension to the Health Professions building and the biosciences building. Another saying goes — once bitten, twice shy. The university must have remarkable pain tolerance to keep soldiering through the double sting of potentially cut funding for the biosciences building and CMED donations that refuse to materialize. Without donations coming in to CMED, the development of the project continues to come out of tuition money — students paying not for their education, but the education of future students. Students are paying inflated tuition rates while going to class in subpar facilities, and that’s only when the buildings are not flooded. University President George Ross has made great use of the state’s economy in his explanations of why tuition rates continue to rise and wages continue to flatline. It’s a fair point, but a man so attuned to money matters in Michigan should accept that now is not a time to expand, but rather consolidate, in expenses from both employees and facilities. It seems we have something to teach Ross.
Dr. W. Robert Fleischmann is making $150,000 annually as a member of the College of Medicine’s faculty. Fleischmann was hired May 24 on a 12-month contract, according to documents obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. He began work July 1.